Fine Artists

Fine artists create sculptors, paintings, graphics, watercolors and drawings. Fine art is a visual art that has been created for aesthetic reasons and judged for its beauty and meaningfulness. The word "fine" indicates the purity of the discipline. Some fine artists work with a variety of materials and others specialize in a particular material. Fine artists create original artwork.

The artwork of fine artists is usually displayed in commercial art galleries, museums, private homes and corporate collections. Some fine artwork is commissioned (created upon request of clients), however most artwork is sold via private art galleries and dealers. Usually the artist and the gallery owner decide in advance how much each of them will receive from a sale.


  • Attend art exhibitions and read art publications
  • Create art out of substances such as clay or wax
  • Study techniques, styles, colors and materials for restoration processes
  • Build a clientele
  • Create sculptures and statutes
  • Build and maintain an artistic portfolio
  • Develop budgets for approval

Job Characteristics

Fine artists often work alone. They work in warehouses, lofts and office buildings. Some fine artists work from their homes. Some artists share studio space with others and sometimes use the space to exhibit their work. Self-employed artists usually spend a lot of time and effort trying to sell their work to potential customers or clients and for building a reputation.

Employment Outlook

The Bureau of Labor statistics forecasts a 6 percent growth rate from 2006 to 2016 for artists and related workers which is faster than average for all occupations. There is keen competition for jobs for artists and related jobs. However, galleries, studios and clients are continually looking for artists that show outstanding talent, style and creativity.

The median annual earnings for salaried fine artists in 2006 was $41,970. The highest paid 10 percent earned more than $79,390. The earnings for artists that are self-employed vary widely. Some artists only charge clients a nominal fee while they acquire experience and build a reputation for their artwork. Some well established freelance fine artists earn more money than salaried artists.

Some fine artists attempt to earn a living via sales of their artwork, however many fine artists cannot make a living just from art sales. Many fine artists teach at art schools, colleges or public schools to supplement their incomes. Some work in art galleries or museums as curators or as directors.

Competition among artists to have their artwork shown in galleries is projected to remain intense. Competition for grants from private foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, and State and local art councils is expected to remain intense.

Some fine artists earn income by providing private art lessons, conducting workshops or by teaching art classes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has stated that about two-thirds of fine artists are self-employed. The rest of them typically have full-time jobs and create art during their free time.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

A large number of colleges and universities provide bachelor's and master's degrees in fine arts. The programs usually include classes such as art history and studio art, natural science, social science and English. Independent schools of art also provide studio training in fine arts and provide certificates and associate and bachelor's degrees in fine arts. When compared to academic programs at universities, the independent art school programs have a stronger emphasis on studio work.

Those seeking to teach fine arts at a public school typically are required to have a bachelor's degree and a teaching certificate. Management and administrative positions in foundations and government agencies as well as teaching positions in colleges usually require an advance degree in fine arts or arts administration.

An artist's portfolio is a major factor for clients and directors in deciding if they want to hire an artist or contract for their work. Internships are beneficial for artists for developing and improving their portfolio.


Major Employers

The top employers are colleges, art galleries, public schools, museums and foundations.

Schools for Fine Artists are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Fine Artists

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Fine Artists jobs , as of 2016

Metro Area Total Employment Annual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 1,810 $78,120
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue 330 $63,290
Columbus 320 $29,660
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward 280 N/A
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn 230 $61,720
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford 220 $50,490
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 210 $62,520
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land 190 $25,610
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell 190 $53,420
San Antonio-New Braunfels 110 $22,140

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to fine artists

Most Popular Industries for
Fine Artists

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment Percent Annual Median Salary
Performing Arts And Sports 2,950 36% $37,790
Professional And Technical Services 1,030 12% $47,540
Traditional Publishing 850 10% $51,320
Education 680 8% $36,250
Movie And Music 550 6% $64,610
Government 520 6% $48,670
Mineral Products 470 5% $28,770
Miscellaneous Retail Stores 440 5% $36,190
Office Services And Staffing 180 2% $50,040
Business Management 130 1% $51,190
Museums And Historic Attractions 110 1% $43,200
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Fine Artists.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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